ZBrush 2023 Complaints to Maxon

I’ve pretty much had the same experience of Maxon. I was willing to go along with the MSA until they forced everything to be subscription and started asking big bucks for little improvements.

The ZB pricing policy is obscene, but expected when Maxon bought ZB. I thought with all the delays in 2023 there would at least be some significant, can’t miss features. I’ll be passing for now.

It was a good 20 years or so of ZB for me, but I’m not going to give them my money. I was willing to go as high as $295/year for upgrades as long as I kept my two installs. $650+ and I have to go though “a couple of minutes” each time I jump between my laptop and workstation is extortion. (And as a former Maxon customer, the frequent downtime of their authorization server isn’t pursuading me it’ll be a “couple of minutes” on my watch.)

Maxon will probably keep the customer numbers up for a while because they have been practically giving Maxon One away free to educational market, but they’re just making a cash-grab on the artist-freelancer world while they can.

It’s sad to watch, but Maxon got greedy and I’m not willing to feed this beast. Hopefully enough long time-users say the same and the revenue drop to serve as lesson that this robbery model has limitations.


For the last 2 and a half years there has been a financial decimation on the self employed and freelancers. During this time and for the most part only corporations and institutions have escaped certain economic realities and it is clear this itself will soon change.

To address such issues and spare good people insults undeserved I thought perhaps it might be prudent to address the issue being raised by many users here and elsewhere online using the corporate parlance of Equity , Inclusion and Partnership.

The way I see it if Maxon were as creative and forward thinking with these concepts they would lead the field both creatively and economically.May I therefore posit some positive suggestions for who knows, maybe somebody might read this.

1,Use a learning, education , training and asset marketplace to subsidise the cost of the software;
2, Offer global equity on pricing
3, Offer equity on pricing differentials between corporate employees and freelancers
4, Offer equity on pricing for the unemployed, the disabled and sick etc
5,Do all of this on trust.

By these means I am sure you will end up with more money , more good will and far less Piracy.

If the imagination , creativity and ethos encapsulated all these years within ZBrush itself was applied to an equally creative way of doing business I think it would be a perfect fit.

Personally I have no skin in the game and cannot run the latest version as I use an older O.S than is required. :slight_smile: So weep for me as I’ve oft longed for the new symmetry options available in the latest version.

Credit to the Maxon team for allowing users to blow off steam . My respects.
Aurick you get a special badge for not losing your shit :slight_smile: :champagne:


We run computer labs in the Visual and Performing Arts in a medium-sized University. We used one-time funding to get ZBrush initially because its cost (even for Education) was well outside our normal budget limits. During online learning early in the Pandemic, Pixologic was great to deal with and we successfully taught the course that used ZBrush. We budgeted for an upgrade fee but were pleasantly surprised when the upgrade was at no charge. We even added a few extra seats with the budgeted upgrade money recently. Big kudos to the Pixologic staff for years of great service.

The switch to Maxon and ZBrush 2023 is already causing us grief. The biggest “f— you” that Maxon did was making the ZBrush 2023 file format incompatible with ZBrush 2022. If our students want to do their assignments on their own computer, they pay Maxon USD$10 so they can do so, but they can no longer hand that work in unless they drop back to an intermediary format like OBJ. There was seemingly no need to change the file format, so we have to assume this is another move to drive people to subscription (or off the platform).

Those USD$10/6 months student licenses are not available for a computer lab in Education; we need to pay CAD$269 per computer per year to use one app (none of the other titles in the Maxon Suite are relevant to the academic programs we offer). In our case, that is over half of our annual lab operating budget for classes in Art, Music, Drama, and Dance. We would have to count on one-time funding to come up with numbers like that, which we would need to be a perpetual license (since we can’t afford that much each year).

It’s clear that Maxon really doesn’t understand the Higher Education market. Is the student deal good? Yes—the biggest impediment for student purchases is the hardware requirements for their software. Is the Lab deal good? No. It deliberately favours their existing Cinema4D customer base, as that is the only title that you can subscribe to individually. We don’t teach motion graphics here, we teach sculpture (and drawing and painting…). Maxon does not seem to understand art schools like ours that incorporate digital software in to traditional art forms. We only need the digital sculpting tools, yet Maxon thinks that making us pay for titles that we will never install makes it “affordable.” We would actively consider paying for upgrades (subscriptions are a non-starter for the aforementioned reasons) if it were in that CAD$99 per major version like it is with Cinema4D.

Finally, the documentation that we can see suggests that installation of version 2023 is done by installing the Maxon One app and then having the Maxon One app install ZBrush. In a computer lab scenario where admins do the installation, not users, that’s not scalable.

Honestly, we didn’t expect Maxon to change their mind, at least not quickly. We were hoping that we could stick with 2022.0.7 for the next 18 months to give Maxon a chance to see the error of their ways and come up with a plan that would address our concerns and thus keep us in the fold. By changing the file format, they have tried to make the perpetual licenses worthless for computer labs, so that is now forcing our hand. If we don’t see a change in policy by July, we will be forced to rewrite our 3D Sculpture course to use Blender instead of ZBrush. I feel badly for the great staff at Pixologic. It will be sad to stop using ZBrush, even with its quirks, but Maxon is clueless about schools like ours that use digital tools as a adjunct to traditional art forms as well as those whose funding model makes subscriptions almost impossible to implement.


Files have never been backward compatible to previous versions. ZBrush 2021, for example, was not able to open files created by ZBrush 2022.

You said you were hoping you could stick with 2022 for the next while. You can. Any student that gets an academic subscription is not forced into ZBrush 2023. They can instead choose to install ZBrush 2022. You can thus all be on the same version.

Regarding deployment, while the Maxon App must be running on all lab machines, it does not have to be used for deployment of ZBrush. The ZBrush installer can be downloaded from My Maxon and then deployed using the same silent installation systems that you have used for previous versions.

I hope that helps.

That’s useful. Thanks. (Of course, we didn’t notice the file format change each version when upgrades were free. I still think this is a bad policy — Photoshop’s file format hasn’t changed since Version 7 [now version 24], and MakeMusic abandoned their version-specific file format for Finale a few years ago. It goes against the flow.)

I’m not seeing anything about the Keyshot Bridge on the My Licenses page, only Zbrush 2022.0.7 and the archive 2021.7.1. Am I missing something?

Thanks again for all you’ve done for the community over the years!

Please start a conversation on Support.

Hi Aurick,

I fully understand the concerns of IAML. We have the exact same issue at the place I teach. Are you saying there is a $10 student version of 2022?

At the moment, we have floating licences of 2022.0.7 which we use, and cannot justify the costs of 2023 for a cut-down version of a renderer we have no intention of using or teaching. The decision to try to get everybody to pay for a renderer in order to access the latest version of ZBrush is not sitting well with those of us who either don’t need a new renderer, or don’t have the resources.

Maxon need to offer ZBrush upgrades that are sculpture based (the bread and butter business) and not there purely for the purposes of trying to get people to buy and use their other products. To then sell it at an extortionate price is the icing on the cake and loses the goodwill of the userbase which Pixologic had built up over the years. It is genuinely sad to see them being used as pawns here. The latest update was pitiful, in that all of the efforts were patently put into grifting Redshift rather than adding the creative tools and technologies that made it so popular in the first place. The lack of innovation in this release was disappointing to say the least. I’ve always loved the ZBrush updates, but this the poorest update in living memory.

If you want to kill ZBrush in colleges and schools, keep charging for features nobody wants or can afford.

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I saved up for years to buy the Zbrush perpetual license so I could hopefully one day work as a professional. It seemed like a great deal and you all seemed like a company that actually cared about its users. And that same year you all sold out to MAXON and now want to charge me $700 to “upgrade”. You have crushed my spirit. The only thing I can hope for now, is that I get good enough anyway and people stop caring if I use the latest version of zbrush. Which I guess good luck with that huh? I should have known better.


700 for slime and a better zremesher? Nothing to blow your skirt up about that is for sure. Keyshot bridge is better anyway. Not worth the license not worth the upgrade. This 2023 update was nothing more than a patch for the pre-Maxon Pixologic folks. Maxon has ruined Zbrush like the single pay Forger. The future of Zbrush is kicking it out the door. Nomad and Zbrush 2022 for ever! What a waste.


The price got leaked last year and the community at large didn’t like it then and still don’t like it. I recommended $150-$200 annual with each missed upgrade year being 50% of that plus the new upgrade. Clearly they weren’t listening to that. Respecting the artists in that way would keep growing the userbase and keep a constant flow of R&D cash. If Maxon wants to argue that they aren’t getting a fair split of VFX revenue, most artists wouldn’t disagree with you. On that front I would say work with the artists to renegotiate a better split with the companies actually making the billions of dollars rather than trying to jam the artists.

Going this cashgrab route is just going to run artists off to blender, 3DCoat, Nomad or one of the many other options that are popping up daily. Keeping your dignity will make-up for a lot of deficiencies in software. Hopefully, Maxon will rethink their perpetual license pricing soon.

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Unforunately I have to agree ! I love ZBrush and want the amazing ZBrush team to make a good living. I would be willing to pay for upgrades on my perpetual, but Maxon’s new pricing strategy is killing it for me.


Maxon had a choice between getting a reasonable cost amount for an upgrade, and all the non-studio users buying it each year, or losing out all those users altogether by pricing all non-commercial users out of buying the upgrades. They chose option 2. Sheer greed means that I can’t justify paying the upgrade price. Not that 2023 seems a significant upgrade even for a more reasonable price anyway.
A £200/$250 upgrade price, seeing as how we already bought it at the full price from Pixologic (and for new users to rent it for a year is £322), the perpetual upgrade price is a kick in the teeth (and a stab in the kidneys when your down, along with it), might have been reasonable. Over $600+taxes is not.
Competing sculpting and texturing apps (with a blue and yellow dripping sphere logo) seem very much more consumer friendly for hobbiests and indie users, and their upgrade pricing is an eighth of Zbrush’s. There are also more and more tutorials being developed for it, which should encourage more users in that direction, although they don’t have the same level and range of tutorials as yet to be fair. But once upon a time, ZBrush was the crazy weird outsider, with only a community to support each other, and a small range of tutorials. Now Maxon doesn’t support that community.


2023 isn’t a yearly upgrade at all. There are a few point release features added, but mostly tweaks to Zremesher, fill mask, and the local symm. Otherwise there’s nothing, really, for a yearly update.

Most of the work seems to have been put into Maxon’s Redshift integration, rather than core Zbrush work, and Redshift is an extra charge so that’s an absolute waste to most users, paying Maxon an extra bill just to get the GPU version, because let’s be honest, who on earth wants to go back to CPU rendering in 2023? What a joke.


So you BUY a perpetual license for a given year, but you don’t get the new features for that year? That’s downright scummy and misleading.

I’ve been a ZBrush fan and amateur for a long time. But this whole license scheme is ugly dumb nonsense. What a way to destroy your user base. You could have probably done just fine no longer having free-updates, maybe releasing light/medium/full versions of Zbrush and just charging $200 a year, and instead it’s this Maxon predatory moneygrab.


Literally every company out there that offers perpetual licenses offers free updates with bug fixes AND features for that yearly version of the software. A couple of days ago when I purchased my perpetual license, nothing on the website indicated that I will be cut from new features for Zbrush 2023, the very software I bought the perpetual license for. This is straight-up a deception, why isn’t this clearly stated on the perpetual license details page? I feel like I got scammed.


For most users, a subscription is the best long-term value.

Please see What’s the difference between Perpetual and Subscription? – Knowledge Base (maxon.net)

It clearly breaks down perpetual license entitlements.

Also, if you purchased the perpetual license within the last 14 days, you can get a refund on that purchase.

Just don’t understand how Maxon is able to get away with this. If you pay for a 2023 perpetual license for Zbrush, you should get all the new features for 2023 in addition to bug fixes. I will not give Maxon any money until that policy is changed. Other apps and applications I have upgraded to for that year give you all of the new features for that entire year. What is sad is so many of us want to pay for these new features but will never pay for a subscription, especially to Maxon. This is echoed by so many users of a 2022 perpetual license.